29 – An Unexpected Bout of Truth and Consequences

After spending the night at Lady Heather’s, Grissom returns home to Sara to find that his actions and intentions how ever well-meant, can have rather unexpected consequences.

Post episode 723, “The Good, The Bad and the Dominatrix,” circa May 2007.

*******

By the time Grissom left a much less despondent Heather Kessler in the company of her granddaughter, it was already far later in the afternoon than he realized.

He was tired and more than a little relieved to be finally home, but now a lot less troubled, especially when he saw Sara’s Prius parked in the spot next to his.

He shrugged off his jacket as he came in, listening intently as he did so for any sounds of her in the apartment, but judging from the quiet, he figured that she must already be asleep. So he tiptoed into the bedroom, only to find Hank occupying her usual space and Sara stretched out on his side of the bed with her back to the door, lying on top of the duvet and still fully dressed. From the tautness in her spine and shoulders though, Grissom could tell that she wasn’t asleep. He gently nudged Hank out of the way and slid to sit beside her.

While she seemed to bristle at his movements, her voice was even, almost too even, when she asked quietly, “Is she going to be okay?”

“Heather?” he queried in surprise, then replied, “I think so. She’s with her granddaughter now.”

“Good.” There was a long, still silence before Sara said, “You weren’t answering your phone, so when you didn’t pick up Hank at the usual time, Robin called me. I didn’t want to leave him home alone.”

Grissom wasn’t quite sure why exactly she was telling him this and was even more puzzled when without even looking at him, she sat up and perched herself on the far edge of the mattress.

“Sara?” he asked, reaching out to place a concerned hand on her shoulder, but Sara merely brushed it away and got to her feet.

“I… I have to go take care of some things,” she stammered. “I’ll see you back at the lab tonight.”

He rose to follow her. “Sara, wait. Don’t leave like this.”

She didn’t even bother to turn around. “Like what?”

“Angry.”

Angry?” she asked, her voice suddenly higher than usual and then strangely and markedly more insistent when she said, “I’m not angry, Grissom.” It was his turn to bristle; as he couldn’t remember the last time she had called him by his last name, at least not in private. But before he could say or do anything, Sara was choking out, “Or mad or furious or pissed or any other word you can come up with out of that voluminous vocabulary of yours.”

This said, when she faced him, Grissom could indeed see that she wasn’t angry or mad, but something else entirely.

Something far worse.

He knew that look in her eyes far too well, though he hadn’t seen it for a long time. He had hoped to never see it again.

She looked hurt.

Then he realized that was what that slight catch in her voice had meant when she had told him earlier in layout room that it was fine and to do what he needed to do.

“Maybe Catherine was right,” she continued, setting her jaw like she always did when upset. “Maybe you really are just asking for trouble when you fish off the company pier.”

“You can’t really mean that,” he said, stumbling slightly as if her words had been actual physical blows.

Sara let out a long, deep breath before replying, “No,” with a sad shake of her head.

His relief lasted only a moment, for there was still that hurt there when she asked, “But all night?” Then her words all seemed to flow together as if she had been holding them back as long as she could and just couldn’t do it anymore, “And I had to hear all about it from Catherine and not from you. About all of it.

“From Catherine,” she hissed emphatically. “Who was talking all about how you and Heather had chemistry, that she was sure the two of you had spent the night together, that Lady Heather was the only woman she had ever seen rattle you.”

“Catherine doesn’t always know what she’s talking about,” came his terse reply.

“Which part? The chemistry, the sex or the rattling?”

Grissom stood there silent for a long time.

“That’s what I thought,” Sara said, beginning to back away from him towards the door. “She’s striking, uninhibited, confident. I can’t compete with that.”

“And you thought I could compete against a guy like Hank?” he replied. “He was younger, Sara, less serious, more suitable and….”

“And barely knew how to stand a book the right way up,” she finished tartly.

“Then why did you go out with him?” Grissom asked genuinely perplexed.

“Because he was interested in being with me and wasn’t afraid to show it,” Sara explained. “And that was something at least.”

Something more than he had given her then, Grissom rued.

“You told me to get a life,” she continued hollowly. “But you never realized that it was a life with you I really wanted.

“Then when you found out about Hank, you pretty much told me you didn’t care if I went out with him or not. Which meant you obviously had no interest whatsoever in having that sort of relationship with me.

“You shut that door, Grissom. No, you slammed that door in my face. Repeatedly.

“Look, I know I don’t have any right to be upset about whatever happened between you and Heather Kessler…”

“She never left me speechless,” he whispered.

That stopped her in her tracks. “What?” Sara asked.

“She never left me speechless,” Grissom repeated. “Not like you do.”

A little of the pain seemed to leave her face at this. Her next question was softer, gentler, yet no less exacting, “But the rest of it is true, isn’t it?”

He didn’t see the point in lying, never really had. “Yes,” he replied.

She didn’t meet his eyes when she stammered not quite able to finish, “Just tell me, was it before or after we –”

Grissom gaped at her wordlessly for a few moments before he covered his mouth with his hand and almost gasped, “Oh, god, Sara, before. Long before. When you were still with Hank. And just that once.”

“Once?” It was her turn to question in surprise.

Rather than replying, he asked her, “Do you remember the Happy Morales case?”

Sara still looked bewildered. “The boxer who just wouldn’t die?”

“That one. You asked me if I had ever been a customer in a place like that.”

She nodded. “And you said no. So you were obviously never a client of Lady Heather’s. Why does it somehow feel like it would have been better if you had?”

Not having an answer for that particular question, he sat down heavily on the bed and said instead, “Do you remember what else I told you that day?”

“That sex without love was pointless.”

He motioned for her to sit down beside him. “And?”

She did and replied, “That it makes you sad.”

“How do you think I learned that lesson?” he said. “It wasn’t from out of a book.”

She seemed to understand this and only nodded knowingly in response.

“I was never in love with Heather,” he continued quietly. “But you have to understand that at the time, I was losing my hearing, so I felt like I was losing control of my life. And I didn’t know what else to do, but hide it from everyone.

“But with Heather, I didn’t have to pretend.” When Sara’s lips began to move as if to interrupt, he raised a hand and said, “No, wait, let me finish.

“With her, I didn’t have to pretend that everything was okay. That I still had everything under control. With her, I didn’t have to be perfect. I didn’t have to be the Dr. Gil Grissom whom everyone seemed to put on a pedestal and thought had all the right answers all the time.

“Then when I went to see her that night, she didn’t treat me as if I didn’t feel anything at all. Like all of you kept saying I did. Especially you.

“You talk about slamming doors, Sara. How do you think it felt when you told me that you wished you could be more like me because I didn’t feel anything?” he asked, but neither waited for, nor seemed to require a reply. “See, if you really felt that way, then it meant that you didn’t think I felt anything for you.

“So what was I supposed to think? Do?

“That is when I realized I had a choice. I could have you in my life at a distance or not at all. And I settled for at a distance. I settled for being guarded with you, rather than lose you completely.

“With Heather, I didn’t have anything to loose. Not really. It didn’t have to mean everything like it would have with you.

“Yes, she was and is, a charming woman. Intelligent, fascinating,” he freely admitted. “But that was all it was, fascination and the desire for some kind of basic human connection.

“But the truth of it was that in the end, it was all so tentative. Once the flush of pleasure and that moment of closeness were gone, it was gone. It wasn’t meaningless; it just didn’t mean everything.

“So that ultimately it really did just leave me feeling empty and sad.”

And he looked it. But after a moment, his eyes softened and a fond sort of smile crossed his face as he hazarded to take one of her hands in his. She let him.

“It wasn’t until I was with you,” he began, “that I discovered how true the opposite could be. That sex with love was happiness like I had never known.

“I never saw Heather again after that night they brought her in. Sara, I was with you. And I only wanted to be with you. I only want that now.

“So don’t go, please,” Grissom whispered. “Stay.”

Slowly, Sara nodded in assent. This time, when he reached up to touch her cheek, she didn’t retreat, but simply closed her eyes and leaned into the caress.

“You did the right thing,” she said softly after a while. “You did. And for the best of reasons.”

“But perhaps not in the best of ways,” he conceded.

“Perhaps, Gilbert.”

With those last two syllables, and the slight smile she gave him when she said them, Grissom knew he had been forgiven.

*******

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